Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


O'Connell, Daniel (1775-1847), "The Liberator," was born near Caherciveen in Kerry, and was educated (at the expense of his uncle, Maurice O'Connell, of Darrynane, who adopted him), first at a small Catholic school near Cork, and then (1792-93) at the colleges of St. Omer and Douai. He left early in 1793 upon the outbreak of the French Revolution, of which he saw enough to fill him with horror. The following year found him a student of Lincoln's Inn, determined (as he himself expressed it) so to improve and enlarge his subordinate talents as to secure for himself something more than a subordinate position in his profession. In 1798, having left London, he was called to the Dublin Bar, at which he won a foremost position almost immediately, and became renowned for the sparkle and exuberance of his wit. In 1800 he was the principal speaker at a meeting of Catholics held to protest against the Union, and from this time he gave himself up more and more to Irish politics. The ill-starred efforts of the United Irishmen had induced in his mind the conviction that secret and illegal methods were vain and dangerous and that "all work for Ireland must be done openly and above-board." It was in this conviction that he set himself to the organising of the vast movement which was to have so triumphant an issue in 1829. The ground of its operations having been thoroughly prepared, the Catholic Association came into being in May, 1823. From the first it was under the absolute control and direction of O'Connell. It was entirely supported by popular subscription, was officered largely by the priesthood, and embraced the whole of Catholic Ireland. Some idea of its vastness may be got from the fact that on one day in January, 1828, as many as two thousand meetings were held in different parts of the country. O'Connell, emboldened by the success of the movement and availing himself of the anomaly which allowed of a Catholic's being returned as member of a Parliament in which he could not sit, decided to stand for Clare upon the seat's becoming vacant in June, 1828. The election resulted in a decisive victory, and Catholic emancipation followed almost as a matter of course: a revision of Catholic disabilities was recommended in the King's Speech of February, 1829, and in the following April the Emancipation Bill became law. O'Connell's election having preceded the measure, he was denied the right to sit in Parliament without taking the obnoxious oath, until he had again presented himself to his constituency and been again returned. This was in July, 1829, between which date and his death he represented successively Waterford, Kerry, Dublin, Kilkenny, Dublin again, and Cork. In Parliament, O'Connell sided with the Whigs until the outbreak of the tithe war, their earlier attitude in regard to which he strongly opposed; their Interaction in practically abolishing tithes and handing over the Irish Church surplus for secular use won them back his support. During the Reform movement he brought in a bill for universal suffrage, triennial parliaments, and the ballot. He first introduced the question of Repeal at the opening of Parliament in 1834. and challenged a division, which resulted in his defeat by 523 to 38 votes. In April, 1840, the National Repeal Association was founded, O'Connell relying on popular subscription for its support. This amounted in 1843 - "the Repeal year," as O'Connell sanguinely called it - to nearly £50,000. In 1843 the Repeal agitation took the form of a series of enormous meetings in and near Dublin, presided over by O'Connell. In October, Peel, determining to crush the movement, proclaimed a meeting which was to have been held at Clontarf. O'Connell decided that the meeting should be abandoned. He was arrested the following week on a charge of fomenting disaffection, was put upon his trial in January, 1844, was convicted, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment and a fine of £2,000, but the verdict, come to by a packed jury, was reversed by the House of Lords. With his submission in regard to the Clontarf meeting, O'Connell's influence, already weakening from several causes, was practically destroyed. He made his last speech in Parliament in February, 1847, and died at Genoa on the way to Rome in the following May. His heart, by his dying wish, was consigned to Rome, his body in the following August removed to Dublin and buried at Glasnevin. The network of political associations which O'Connell created throughout Ireland, and the admirable order which characterised the immense mass meetings of the Repeal agitation, gave proof of his powers of organisation and his control over his followers. Of his oratory, and especially of the beauty and power of his voice, Bulwer Lytton, Disraeli, Lord Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens have left enthusiastic descriptions, and numberless instances have been given of his wit, whether in Parliament, on public platforms, or in courts of law. Though not blameless in private life, he was a devoted and affectionate husband and father; and a pleasing picture of his relations to his wife and children is afforded by the volumes of his Correspondence, published in 1890.